Glycolic Acid is a natural ingredient that is extracted from sugar cane (but is also made synthetically). It’s classed as an alpha-hydroxy-acid or AHA.
Glycolic acid has a great ability to penetrate into the deeper layers of the epidermis, which is why it is so popular in skincare products. It aids in the keratinization process, which basically means that it helps to maintain the renewal of living healthy skin cells that come up from the dermis and eventually make their way to the surface of your skin and die off. The benefit is that it helps to keep plump, fresh skin cells constantly cycling through. These fresh skin cells are more hydrated and healthier, which helps with that fresh glowing skin that we all crave!
Glycolic’s (and AHA’s) are a type of exfoliant that doesn’t actually need grains for them to work.
The way that it exfoliates the dead skin cell layer, is quite unique. How it works, is it targets the ‘intracellular glue’, which is the glue that bonds skin cells together, including the dead ones. As we get older or if we don’t look after our skin properly, it loses its ability to naturally regulate its balance of skin living and dead skin cells. Glycolic (in the right concentration) specifically targets the stratum corneum (epidermis layers – helps to form our natural skin protective barrier). It dissolves this glue and allows the skin cells to naturally exfoliate themselves much faster, promoting new cells to come through to replace them.
Glycolics and peels can have fantastic results on skins that have pigmentation and acne problems. The encouragement of new skin cells helps (over time) to bring those pigmented cells up from the deep-down layers of the skin.
One thing that I would keep in mind though, is those brand new, fresh healthy cells that are happily parading themselves on your face. They aren’t used to the world! They need a lot of extra love, and most definitely a good layer of sunscreen, all the time.
Use a glycolic to target a specific skin woe, or to just inject a little life into it, but give your skin a rest, too as changing up your skin regimen can also help prevent your skin to become immune to the great effects of glycolic.
If you have ongoing pigmentation or acne issues and are thinking about going on a course of peels, I would recommend speaking to a dermatologist first, especially if you have any kind of sensitivity issues.